Monday, October 29, 2007

Preseason Training – Andy Jacobsen

Apologies for a slow week last week... combine an office full of New Englanders and the Red Sox in the World Series, and things get a little distracted. With the win last night, the distraction gave way to the reality that November is a day or two away, and there are no more excuses about getting ready for ski season – time to kick it into high gear.

Preseason training doesn’t have to leave you bruised and battered (like the Padded Floor post), but there’s definitely a satisfaction in the soreness that comes from a good workout. It’s energizing knowing that the harder you work now and the more sore you feel, the easier it will all become when you hit snow. Kicking off training rituals, Andy Jacobsen checks in from Salt Lake City, UT with a workout routine that will definitely bring the hurt:

Here’s a quick overview of my preseason training:

  • I spend at least an hour and a half on my road bike three or four times week.
  • Lunges, lunges, lunges. I usually start with 10lb weights in each hand doing three sets of 100. As the season gets closer and my legs get stronger I up the weight to as needed, usually maxing out around 30lbs in each hand. Lunges are awesome for tele skiing.
  • Three or four times a week I do 10 sets of 30 seconds on a box (6-12” high) jumping from one side, to the top, and to the other side as fast as possible. These are great for quickness, which is key for making tele turns in tight situations.
  • A couple times a week I will fill my backpack with water bottles and hike one of the many steep trails we have here in Salt Lake, usually something with 2000-3000 vertical feet and steep! At the top I dump all the water out and use trekking poles to ease the impact on my knees on the way down.
  • Other than that it is just little things here and there, like climbing to keep the shoulders and core strong. Whether it’s picking a crag with a longer approach to sneak in a little extra cardio or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, it all adds up.

-Andy Jacobsen

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Junkboarding - An Eastern Way of Life

It didn’t take long for the Low Snow Antics video we posted of Dickie Hall to draw a video response from some friends and fellow Vermonters. The tip came from Karhu skier Dave Bouchard, and partners-in-crime Vince Franke and Justin Woods sent along the video and the words.

(Video courtesy of Vince Franke/Peregrine Productions. Junkboarders Dave Bouchard, Justin Woods, Adam Sherman and Jim Clapp.)

The Junkboard Manifesto
By Justin Woods

Junkboards are not just simple tools, though it's true they are a means to an end. Junkboarding is a way of life, a philosophy, and a coping mechanism for Eastern snow (or lack thereof).

While many of our ski brothers and sisters are moping around their houses in November, still doing silly things like mountain-biking and “pre-season training,” Eastern Junkboarders are already out on the flanks of the grassiest of the Appalachian slopes. (Don’t bother to ask us where the best grass is – we won’t give up our secret one-inch stashes.) When the season “opens” with first turns on the death ribbon at Sugarbush or Killington, us Junkboarders have already been earning our dirty turns for weeks.

The Junkboarder philosophy goes hand-in-hand with Yankee ingenuity and self-sufficiency. We make our own boards. We use tablesaws and bandsaws to rip asunder two halves of a snowboard (preferably a free one, found at the junkyard). We flip the halves so that the inside edge is the “ski” or turning edge. Some of us even shape and tune the outside edge, though many of us consider our boards disposable and dispense with the formality of outside edges. Grass, over time, will smooth them out. Last but not least, we T-nut our three-pins or sometimes gnarlier bindings to the board, and voila: Junkboards.

Nothing floats on a dusting to three inches of snow like a Junkboard. They’re light, flexible and easy for touring, though most of the time, Junkboarders are booting up the toll-roads of our favorite hills. Junkboards eat grass. They hover. They make one inch feel like ten. And when you break one in half trying to skip across the backside of the inevitably open waterbar, you look for your next pair to mount.

Junkboarders believe that the best training for skiing is skiing, and that’s what we do: we JFS (Just Frickin’ Ski) that stuff. We don’t hit the gym for some fancy-shmancy “ski-machine” or worry about “dry-land training,” and we’re never deterred by a dusting of snow. When the inevitable January Thaw hits – the slopes revealing their brown, ugly faces – we do not despair; no, sir. We hit the gear closet and break out the Junkboards.

Thanks to Junkboards, our seasons are extended by at least a month. We hike to snowline, and we ski. There is no seasonal affective disorder for the Junkboarder; there is only the sweet anticipation of an inch of snow on grass. There is no wallowing in self-pity or second-guessing for the true J-board enthusiast; there is only the self-assured knowledge that determination, two halves of the otherwise worthless snowboard, and an inch of snow can bring.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Good Thing the Floor's Padded

With ski season just around the corner, we'll be posting pre-season training tips and routines from Eric Henderson, Andy Jacobsen and others next week. In that spirit, I thought it'd be fun to lead off on a lighter note heading into the weekend, and saw this gem on YouTube, which demonstrates that sometimes the workout can be more of a contact sport than the endeavor it's preparing you for.

Looks painful, but looks like he got it eventually. That's the kind of balance and strength that makes for a strong season!

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Photo Tales 2

Following up on yesterday’s entry with EmberPhoto, today we bring you more of Brian and Emily’s words and photos from the Rio Baker Valley. Powered by Patagonia’s first annual Dirtbag Grant and Karhu skis, they traveled to Chile and brought back an incredible collection of imagery that continues to raise awareness for the preservation of one of the planet’s wildest places.

(Photo by Brian Mohr/

"It was a huge run. Vicky and I had just skied from the spine of Patagonia's Cordon Chacabuco, and it felt like we might never get out. We drank from the stream at our feet. Condors circled overhead. Skiing here left us with a rare view of one of the planet's last great wild places – Chile's endangered Rio Baker Valley. Now it was time to soak it up, and hope that our skiing would inspire others to come here and to help protect this far off place, before it's too late."
—Emily Johnson

Keep Patagonia Wild
By Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson
All photos: Brian Mohr/

(Photo by Brian Mohr/

Soto, our Patagon guide, reached around his horse to cinch a loose line. With his face streaked in mud, he cracked a suspicious smile.

“There’s a good chance we’ll have to swim with the horses,” he said.

Overnight, winds strong enough to tear the canogas off the cabin roof combined with heavy rain to make a real mess of our snowcapped valley.

“The river’s too deep and too swift to cross here,” said Soto a few hours after leaving camp. “Let’s stick to this side.” With six horses, our Karhu skis and our expedition gear in tow, we spent the next hour pushing through a heavily vegetated swamp in thigh deep snowmelt.

We were alone in a wild glacial tributary of Chile’s Rio Baker Valley – the Valle Soler – and although we were determined to make it to the mouth of our valley by sunset, our optimism was fading. Skis were snagging on branches, our feet were numb, and if the wind and sleet weren’t in our faces, they steadily soaked us from behind.

“Welcome to the real Patagonia,” chimed Soto.

Well immersed in the next chapter of our own book of ski adventures, Soto’s words were reassuring. We had returned to the heart of Chilean Patagonia because we had tasted its wild nature before. And although we spent the day on the verge of hypothermia, we also knew there was a warm fire waiting for us downriver.

Chile’s Rio Baker Valley is home to a “Patagonia” that few people know. After bicycle touring into the region back in 2001, we realized that it was also an adventure skiing dreamland begging to be explored. Flanked on one side by the Northern Patagonia Ice Sheet and on the other by the Andes Mountains along the Argentine border, the untamed Rio Baker is one of the last great rivers on the planet that is still free flowing from its sources to the ocean. Glaciers, ancient forests and unnamed mountains are in abundance here, and everything from guanacos (wild llamas) to Patagon gauchos call it home.

Last October 2006, working in partnership with Backcountry Magazine, Patagonia Inc. and Patagonia Adventure Expeditions, we headed back here both to ski and to document a place and a culture that is now threatened by a short-sighted proposal to develop the Rio Baker for industrial-scale hydro power. While most Chileans who live in the region support alternatives to monster dams, their voices have gone unheard.

“If the dams get built, they will destroy the river, and destroy the wildness that makes Patagonia so special,” said Soto.

By mid-October, we were off. Under a springtime sun, we climbed with our fully-loaded packs high above the Rio Baker to set up camp at snowline in the region’s Valle Chacabuco – home to the “Great Tetons” of Patagonia. And for the next several weeks, while skiing in the mountains above the Baker, we carried the hope that our stories and images would help to build the case for the long-term protection of what is undoubtedly one of the planet’s greatest natural treasures – and one incredible skiing paradise.


Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson are regular contributors to the outdoor and mountain sports media, and can be reached through EmberPhoto. They have a passion for skiing adventures in far-off places and rely on Karhu skis wherever they go.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

EmberPhoto on The Cleanest Line

If you’ve seen either of our Women’s Series ads running in Powder and Backcountry magazines for November, you’ve seen a glimpse of the photography and words of Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson, the dynamic Vermont duo that makes up EmberPhoto. Winners of Patagonia’s inaugural Dirtbag Grant, they traveled to Chile in October of 2006 to explore and raise awareness about the Rio Baker Valley – a rich ecosystem in the heart of Chilean Patagonia which is threatened by a major dam project proposed by energy giant ENDESA.

With the recent announcement of the winners of the second Dirtbag Grant, Patagonia invited Brian to recap the story on their blog, The Cleanest Line. Here's an excerpt from Brian's post:

We are not just a bunch of gringos who would prefer that Chile stop developing its wonderful country. Nor are we opposed to hydropower. We are residents of this planet who support the cause of countless Chileans endeavoring to stop the profit-driven damming – the "electrocution" – of the global treasure that is Patagonia.

If the European-owned energy giant, ENDESA, gets it way, Chilean Patagonia’s largest and wildest river, the Rio Baker, will be dammed. To connect the resulting glut of power to the Chilean national grid and the growing network of inefficient copper and gold mines in Chile’s far north, ENDESA is scheming to build a 2000km transmission line through the biodiverse heart and soul of Chilean Patagonia – degrading sweeping vistas and plowing roads through nature reserves. Once the transmission line is built, it will only be a matter of time before the remainder of Patagonia's wild rivers fall, and the rich mosaic of ecosystems that define Patagonia is torn to pieces...

…For even more on the issue, please visit "
Action Alert - Don't Dam Patagonia" at Thanks to Brian and Emily for starting the Dirtbag Grant off right.

The trip resulted trip in a host of publicity and inspiration, with a feature story in the February 2007 issue of Backcountry Magazine, countless images, our own advertising campaign, and Brian and Emily’s Wild People, Wild Places slideshow.

Tomorrow we’ll bring you Brian and Emily’s story from our consumer brochure and a few more images of this beautiful land. Until then, click play on EmberPhoto’s Endangered Patagonia video, or check out the rest of the post on The Cleanest Line for more.

(Video courtesy of

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

2007 Northwest Mountaineering Journal

The 4th issue of the Northwest Mountaineering Journal is out, and it is a beautiful thing.

Lowell Skoog, via
"The mission of the Northwest Mountaineering Journal is to be an edited, permanent, annual record of mountaineering in the Pacific Northwest. The journal documents the events, people, history and spirit of climbing and other mountain sports in this region. The journal is published by volunteers from the mountaineering community in collaboration with The Mountaineers. [The 2007 issue] has feature articles about alpine rock climbing, high traverses, mountain rescue, glaciers and climate, influential mountaineers, and more. It includes reports of new climbing routes, first winter ascents, and first ski descents from April 1, 2006 through March 31, 2007. It also contains highlights from Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks."

While historic mountaineering accounts have long visible in print publications, the NWMJ is a good example of the new possibilities open to the writers, photographers and adventurers of the mountain community. It's hard to replace the power of a large, glossy print image, but it's great to see options expanding.

For ski mountaineering, check out the Short Reports section, which features accounts from a number of impressive descents throughout the rugged peaks of the Cascades. And backcountry users of all types should read Iain Morris' Center Stage on Mount Hood. Morris - a member of Portland Mountain Rescue - recounts the search and rescue mission for three climbers stranded on Mount Hood in Oregon in December 2006.

The search captured national attention and quickly became a media circus, complete with national commentators proclaiming that the state should close the mountain in the winter. The debate over acceptable risk in the mountain community then moved into the state legislature, where House Bill 2509 - which required climbers to carry a two-way communication device and a locator device on Mount Hood from November to March above 10,000 feet - passed the House before stalling in the Senate. As a searcher on the scene, Morris shares his thoughts on the proposed regulation, the inherent harshness of the mountains in winter and the draw of such adventure.

As backcountry pursuits continue to grow in popularity, the interplay between self-reliance, regulation, risk and preparedness will undoubtedly arise again. It's always good to remind ourselves of the consequences of risk in the mountains and how far our actions might reach fellow skiers, rescuers and others in the community indirectly. How can we as a community increase awareness of both the risks and the desire to venture out into wild places that aren't sanitized or watered down?

What say you? Leave a comment and share your reaction...

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First Resort Turns 0708 - A-Basin

Sure as the aspens turning yellow, every fall the Colorado resorts fire up their snow guns as soon as the temperature falls, hoping to claim the title of first to open in the US. An excited phone call came from a friend in Denver early this morning, with word that Arapahoe Basin’s Exhibition Chair opened at 9am this morning. Its earliest opening in 61 years, A-Basin battled a recent stretch of warm weather to open a trail or two with an 18” base. The thin white ribbon might be packed full today, but hey, it’s turns.

(Video courtesy of Colorado Ski Country)

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Cascade Snow

It didn’t take long for new snowfall to ripple across different regions of the country, but there was particular excitement here at the office this morning as reports from the Cascades filtered down to the city. Up high in the North Cascades, Mount Baker received 20” of new snow yesterday, reportedly the biggest snowfall the resort has seen this early. And just 45 minutes up the road from our new offices, Alpental showed off the season’s changing of the guard with a solid covering on the upper cliffs and International. There’s more precipitation forecast for the weekend… maybe enough for some XCD exploration up high, or just a fall hike full of anticipation.

(Photo courtesy of Summit at Snoqualmie. Click photo for more.)

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Low - Belarus

For all the times good music has accompanied making tracks on skis, rarely has action from the winter landscape made it back into the world of music. It was with pleasant surprise this winter that we saw a music video for the band Low (a Duluth, MN band on the popular Seattle Sub-Pop label) featuring Nordic skiing. A surprise, at least, until we learned it was filmed by former Karhu rep and Nordic junkie Hansi Johnson.

The video for Low’s “Belarus” offers a stark contrast of the winter landscape – especially its historical footage – with the image of heavy industry around Duluth. The mind doesn’t have to stretch too far to see the tenuous hold winter has, and that is both a scary thought and an important concept for anyone with a passion or a stake in skiing.

("Belarus" by Low. Video courtesy of Sub Pop.)

Aside from its message, Hansi’s video captures the beautiful athleticism of truly cross-country skiing. The skiing is smooth and graceful, with bursts of frenetic energy, and it reflects the varied terrain and tempo of skiing off the beaten path. Winter is much broader than a groomed track, and it’s great to see that so well portrayed for Nordic skiing.

According to Hansi, this footage originally came together for a longer movie called “Cross Country with the Snakes” that deals with Bill Koch – the only American ever to win an Olympic medal in Nordic skiing. Says Hansi, “Koch is by far the best skier of any type the US has ever produced, due to his ability to ski anything on Nordic skis. If people like “Belarus” they will die for “Cross Country with the Snakes.” I just got a copy here, so more on that later…

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Conservation Northwest

A few weeks back, we spread word that Spokane residents would have a good shot at a fun XCD tour package, all while benefitting a good cause. Our man in the mountains, Nils Larsen, checks in from last week’s Conservation Northwest benefit in Eastern Washington:

The Conservation Northwest banquet and auction on September 27th sold out quickly in Spokane. The venue, the recently restored Davenport Hotel was excellent, comfy with lots of classic old charm. Brock Evans, the grand-daddy of the NW conservation movement, gave a great speech on the movement's history in the area. Brock ended his talk with an anecdote, wherein his doctor told him that a recent diagnosis of cancer would be an uphill battle. To the doctor, he replied, "I'm a conservationist; everything I do is an uphill battle," and the crowd erupted with wild cheers.

The auction was spirited, with everything from a condo week on Maui to cases of (good) wine. In a more adventurous prize, Alex Loeb won the
XCD 10th Mountain skis from Karhu along with a day sliding around in the Kettle Range with me. She was getting this for her husband, but after looking at the skis, she starting thinking she might keep them for herself.

(Nils Larsen and a smilin' Alex Loeb. Photo courtesy of Nils Larsen.)

It was great timing with fall here in NE Washington. I saw the first snow on the mountains near my house and have had some heavy frosts. The wood stoves are fired up in the mornings, and skiing is a regular topic at local gatherings.

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